10 Things We Learned at McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2014

Black Bottom Lighters

4. Desert Reggae Rules the Local Scene

Most of the local performers tapped for MMMF 2014 brought their "A" game to the festival, but local reggae veterans The Hourglass Cats and Black Bottom Lighters shined the brightest. BBL brings a more smooth style of irie jams to the stage, and THC has a more rock 'n' roll sound with a hint of a Latin vibe, but both styles of reggae were a hit with the MMMF crowd.

During The Hourglass Cats' set on Saturday, I overheard more than half a dozen fans inquire as to why they were not rocking out on the main stage and express hopes that next year the reggae rockers with the aggressive garage rock sound would be gracing the larger field. They sounded as tight as ever, even though they were breaking in a new drummer, Johnny Groove (formerly of the VeraGroove), and the large sound system really accentuated Cori Rios' blazing guitar solos.

Black Bottom Lighters played the same day but four hours later and made the most of a great situation headlining the local stage on the fest's biggest day. Their always exuberant frontman Ryan Stilwell was in noticeably high spirits, spending almost the entire set with a huge smile on his face. The band did not miss a beat the whole set, which is really saying something because drummer Ryan McPhadder was playing with one arm because the other one was injured in a recent car accident. The drummer braced his arm and persevered and played one of the boomiest sets of his career.

Supposedly, the three best local stage performers are given a spot on the main stage. If that's so, check off two spots for desert reggae.

Melissa Fossum
Dwight Yoakam

3. Dwight Yoakam Is a True Rhinestone Cowboy

I'm not what one would call a country buff. I like some Johnny Cash, love some Stewart Stephens, and can appreciate a few other acts. Which is why I was plum surprised to see Dwight Yoakam, a man Cash once called his favorite country singer, up on stage with two band members in rhinestone jackets. I thought Yoakam would be the more gritty side of country.

But the legend pulled a huge country-loving crowd, and it was fun to see the over-40 section getting really into the show. He was a great fit in bewteen G.Love and Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite.

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So awesome that MMMF had such an awesome diverse lienup this year! By far the best festival in Arizona with its professional production and music selection. Doesn't get better than having banging hip hop electric with gramatik and then followed by out of this world psychedelic jamming with STS9 with it's opening day. Then chilled out with then next few days of solid jams from slightly stoopid and disco biscuits. Thank you MMMF for bringing this to the Arizona music scene! Looking forward to next year!

Kyle Day
Kyle Day

Carl Momberger - Deschutes participates in the festival because of their willingness to contribute their product/time/marketing to the festival charity organizations. And the beer is fantastic!!!

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

It's just too bad the founder of this festival couldn't keep the Compound Grill open. Great place for a show.

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